Aug 2, 2009
Imagine living in a place so remote the mail only comes once a year. Or reaching the summit of the highest place on earth…which isn’t Mt. Everest. Read on to learn about some of the most extreme places on the planet.
Highest Point on Earth…Sort of
At 29,029 feet (8848 meters), Mt. Everest is famed as the highest peak on earth. And that’s true. It’s also not true. It all depends on how one looks at it. Technically, Mt. Everest’s rocky peak is the highest bit of land from sea level. But because the earth isn’t a perfect sphere, certain lower points are in effect “higher” in space. Mt. Everest is less close to the moon and stars than another mountain which is relatively unknown. And that is Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador. It’s just over 20,000 feet high, so while it’s not as tall as Mt. Everest, it is actually closer to outer space due to the shape of the earth.
Highest Point Accessible by Vehicle
In Tibet, the stark Semo La road is over 20,000 feet high and takes you through hauntingly beautiful vistas and a treacherous mountain pass. Word has it that Marsimik La is the highest road on earth; but it all comes down to what one might consider an accessible road. Semo La can be used by vehicles. Authorities believe there may be other, higher roads, even more remote, but so far they have not been documented.
ristan de Cunha: Most Remote Island on Earth
The most remote inhabited island group in the world, Tristan de Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is so tiny its main island has no airstrip. Home to 272 people sharing just 8 surnames, inhabitants suffer from hereditary complaints like asthma and glaucoma. Annexed by the United Kingdom in the 1800s, the island’s inhabitants have a British postal code and, while they can order things online, it takes a very long time for their orders to arrive. But then, that’s the trade off for having your own island settlement some 2,000 miles from the nearest continent.
Deepest Point in the Ocean
The Marianas Trench, off of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, is the deepest point in the world’s oceans. It it over 7 miles – more than 36,000 feet – deep. If Mt. Everest were placed in the trench the summit would be more than a mile under the surface. The pressure at the bottom of the trench is more than 1,000 times stronger than at sea level. The United States Navy sent two naval officers to the bottom in a vessel called the Trieste in 1960. They observed fish, shrimp and other creatures living on the bottom of the sea floor.
Lowest Point on Earth
The Dead Sea is the lowest place on land that’s below sea level, at 1,378 feet. On the border of Jordan and Israel, the road around the Dead Sea also happens to be the lowest road on earth. Famous for its salinity (over ten times that of the Mediterranean Sea), the Dead Sea is said to be home of the first health retreat. Because of the extreme salt content, no life can survive in the sea, hence the name.
Coldest Place on Earth – and Driest, and Wettest…Huh?
Antarctica is a land of extremes. It’s not inhabited year round by humans because it’s simply too freezing cold. In 1983 scientists recorded extreme cold temperatures as low as -129 Fahrenheit. It’s also the wettest place on earth, but simultaneously the driest. The reason it’s the “wettest” is not because of rainfall; since Antarctica is covered by 98% ice, it’s technically very wet. However since it’s also the aforementioned coldest place in the world, it gets very little precipitation – less than 2 inches a year. Which makes Antarctica a desert. A brutally cold ice desert with a massive trench full of even more…ice. Three for the price of one!
Biggest Pure Vertical Drop on Earth
Mount Thor, in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada, presents a 4,100 foot pure vertical drop. Mt. Thor is Canada’s most famous peak, and it’s made of pure granite. It’s a favorite of thrill seekers and climbers. There have been a few recent rappel expeditions, with one fatality in 2006.
Deepest Ice on Earth
The Bentley Subglacial Trench in Antarctica is phenomenally thick ice, going 8,383 feet deep. It’s the lowest point on earth that isn’t covered by ocean, but the honor still goes to the Dead Sea for lowest point, as the Dead Sea is technically “on” land and the Bentley Trench is technically covered with water (ice). The trench is the same size as Mexico.
Hottest Place on Earth
Death Valley is famously blistering hot, but the hottest place ever officially recorded to outdo Death Valley’s amazing heat is El Azizia in Libya. In 1922 the temperature reached 136 degrees. Death Valley’s hottest temperature on record is 134 degrees. When it’s that hot, what’s another two degrees really